You Can Use Apple AirPlay to Stream From a Windows PC Too

Photo:  nicklbaert (Shutterstock)
Photo: nicklbaert (Shutterstock)

AirPlay allows you to stream music from an Apple device to your HomePod, or mirror video content from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac to a bigger screen. As long as all devices are connected to the same wifi network, AirPlay works really well within the Apple ecosystem. But even if your primary computer is a Windows PC, you can still use AirPlay to stream to other devices—even from Windows. Here’s how.

Use iTunes to stream to AirPlay-enabled devices

Apple’s iTunes app still works on Windows, and you can download it for free to make your PC work with AirPlay devices. Once you’ve added your media to iTunes, you can click the AirPlay icon in its top bar (next to the media controls), and select the device you want to stream to.

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With this feature you can use a HomePod as a speaker for your Windows PC. Similarly, you can connect to any other AirPlay-enabled device to your computer. This method can also allow you to stream movies from iTunes to your TV, as long as you have an Apple TV or AirPlay 2-enabled device to cast to—your TV’s speakers or your home theater system connected to the TV will serve as the audio device, while the Apple TV or TV itself will play the video.

That said, your results may vary. You might find iTunes isn’t picking up your HomePod in its AirPlay window, or that when you try to stream video to an Apple TV, it ends up failing. Plus, using iTunes is a bit of a pain in general. Several other apps, such as MusicBee, Plex, and VLC Media Player, do a far better job managing and playing your media. Unless you already have a library of music and other media on iTunes, it’s not worth the hassle to add everything to its library for AirPlay alone.

Try third-party apps for AirPlay on Windows

If you don’t want to deal with iTunes’ eccentricities, there are better ways to use AirPlay with any app on Windows. All you need is a third-party app that, once installed, will let you stream to any AirPlay-enabled device from any Windows app.

Tuneblade is our favorite AirPlay app for Windows. It opens a tiny window near the system tray and displays all the AirPlay devices in your wifi network. Just pick the one you want to stream to and play the media on your PC.

Depending on the task you’ve picked, you may need to tweak Tuneblade’s settings. The app has multiple latency modes in its AirPlay Streaming settings and you can pick a different mode if the default (Normal Latency: 2 seconds) doesn’t work for you. Normal Latency is fine for music and movies, but it may not work for gaming or video calls; you can choose Real-time Streaming to minimize the delay. Because of this lag, avoid AirPlay if you’re into competitive online gaming, but otherwise, Tuneblade has all bases covered. Its interface is pretty basic, but it’s the kind of app that you’ll set up once and forget about.

Tuneblade’s free tier allows you to stream to any device for up to 10 minutes. You can keep reconnecting every 10 minutes to keep using the app without paying. That’s annoying though, so you’ll probably want to pony up—the full version costs $10.

While Tuneblade is an excellent AirPlay app for most people, power users might also want to consider AirParrot. It has a better interface and provides more control over your AirPlay experience. Niche use cases, such as mirroring only one screen from your multi-monitor setup or using AirPlay only with a single app on your computer, are better served by AirParrot. You can try it for free for a week, and it costs $15 for a license.

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